Well, as some of you know, I’m pregnant, and if you want to read about the fun of the First Trimester, it’s over here.
I’ve set out to be honest in these pregnancy related posts (and every post), because I feel like I was so surprised by a lot of the things that happened during this time, so if I can be helpful to anyone out there, or make someone feel a little less alone, then I’m happy. I also want to remember this time in my life, because I know things are going to get even busier, and even more frenetic and it’s nice to be able to go back in time and read about past experiences with fresh eyes.
Pregnancy is not all sunshine and roses. In fact… come to think of it, I’ve only gotten roses once, and they were unrelated to my pregnancy. I’m somewhere in the second trimester and that’s the time when things are supposed to get easier and energy is supposed to return, and you get an increase in appetite, and you can do more things, and just end up getting bigger along with your developing fetus.
Well. You might have noticed I used the words “supposed to” a lot up there. Because that doesn’t necessarily happen. Everyone is different, again, I will say everyone is different – for me, I’ve mostly gotten my energy back with a few random days of spontaneous exhaustion that don’t seem to reasonably correlate with my days activity levels. They just happen out of nowhere. Is it you progesterone? It’s me, MeShell.
I’m also going to write a whole bunch of stuff based on my experiences, and I am not a medical professional, so please talk to your midwife, doctor, or do your own credible research if you have any concerns. However, my aim is to not tell you anything dangerous, and I’m also erring on the side of caution every step of the way.
The nausea I experienced during the first trimester, has been replaced with heartburn. Terrible, perpetual heartburn. And it’s my old friend progesterone again, helping me out – it relaxes muscles in pregnancy, but also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps stomach acid out of the esophagus. Thanks buddy. No matter what I eat, or in what quantity. Sometimes, I just have heartburn when I’m hungry. Lucky me.
Perhaps small meals help other people. That’s great. As for me, if I eat pretty much anything, it’s heartburn time shortly after. Ginger ale provides some comfort for a little while, which is why I have a 2L bottle of it perched on my nightstand (or currently, sitting on a pillow beside me.) For some people carbonated beverages exacerbate their heartburn, maybe that’s happening here, but for the 10-15 minutes I’m heartburn free after a swig of this wonderful carbonated beverage, I will continue to do this drinking thing.
I’ve tried a few herbal teas that are supposed to help with heartburn, and while they haven’t helped me much, other people mentioned they found them helpful so it might be worth a try for you if you’re experiencing heartburn too.
There are still random food aversions I’m aware of – like every citrus fruit I see makes me want to walk (possibly even run) in the opposite direction, but mostly the idea of food is good, and I am occasionally interested in eating it, but also occasionally not. My weight has been around the same number for most of my pregnancy thus far, so I’m anticipating most of my increase will happen in the third trimester, but only time will tell. Everyone’s experience is different.
I haven’t really craved anything in particular so far, though I do like broccoli even more than usual, and I did make a pretty stereotypical pickle soup a few weeks ago. Mostly, I’m aware of feeling hungrier than usual, and I’m drawn towards more savoury options.
Body Image Issues and Pleasant Surprises
In the beginning I was concerned that I would have a really bad time with all the anticipated body changes. I’ve had body image issues for most of my adult life, and have a history of eating disorders that had me hospitalized, so I was conscious of the idea that pregnancy and the changes could trigger feelings of body hate or disordered eating, and wanted to be on top of it. Communicating those concerns with JC has been the primary way to keep tabs on myself.
Thankfully, instead of being upset, I’ve actually been so happy to see my body change in all of these interesting ways. I love the belly, I love who’s growing inside the belly, and this experience has been so powerfully and unexpectedly positive in terms of feeling like my body and I are completely connected and are building something incredible together.
I even like the spidery lines that are making their way along the edges of my belly as it expands. There is something so powerful about this that I have a hard time putting into words. I’m coming out of this already with a greater appreciation of what my body is capable of.
It’s been a long process to get to this point in my life, and if you are dealing with body image issues, pregnant or not, and want to talk to someone, I would recommend reaching out to the National Eating Disorder Information Center for more professional resources and also welcome you to email me or tweet at me anytime.
Since I’m on this topic – if you get pregnant, you might get stretch marks. You might not. There is no definitive magical solution for it, despite the dozens of products claiming otherwise. I’ve been putting belly lotion on the entire time, and I still have a few stretch marks. It’s been nice to take time for some self-care and massage (and I think there is value in that), but that’s been the primary benefit, just feeling in tune with myself. There was a study focused on why stretch marks happen on a molecular level written up earlier this month – you can read a summary of their findings here and read the actual study here.
So, all that moisturizing has resulted (unsurprisingly) in soft skin. But there are still a few red lines, like a couple of spindly fingers on hands holding my belly up. This has also happened despite not gaining any weight. As my body redistributed fat to my breasts and belly, so too did stretch marks appear, right in the first trimester and on to the next one.
What I’m saying is: You might have stretch marks during pregnancy and it’s okay to have stretchmarks.
Lack of Control. Bad Medical Appointments. Etc.
Another thing that you might not realize, but that I was at least somewhat aware of with an interest in birth justice issues before I got knocked up – is the lack of control over this process. Or at least the lack of feeling control over the process, depending on your health care provider. It’s not just the body changes that happen automagically, but all the testing and the visits with medical people that can just leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed with the whole process.
I signed on with a midwife clinic in hopes of getting a more patient-centred approach. As that has always seemed to be a central part of the theory of midwifery practise. Unfortunately, while one of my midwives has been quite lovely, I met the other one on my “team” recently for the first time and she did not provide what I considered patient-centred care. Instead, she made me feel like I was a piece of meat on a hook where she did her tests, wouldn’t answer my questions, ignored most of what I said or asked, didn’t seem to listen, and rushed me out the door in ten minutes or less.
And that’s probably bad enough for an appointment, but the idea of having her present or assisting at the birth of my future offspring does not fill me with much joy or confidence.
What I’m really saying is I found my visit absolutely terrible. I left with tears in my eyes, and sure, I might be hormonal, and even when I’m not pregnant, I cry all the time for a variety of reasons, but this time it wasn’t “Oh I read something super sad or super amazing on the internet that I connected with because I’m an empathetic person” so here come the waterworks, this time it was, “Wow, that made me feel really gross and was a disempowering experience and I never ever want to go back there again.”
So where am I at with this now? I’m going to write a letter that can calmly cover why that appointment was terrible, while I can avoid dealing with too much direct confrontation, which I do not enjoy. I’ve had bad experiences with healthcare “professionals” and asking them for more courteous treatment – including one time where a doctor just yelled at me for a good five minutes, so I’m a bit afraid of asking for what I need, but otherwise I’d have to seek out another care team.
I opted to get ultrasounds during this pregnancy, but you should know that there are alternatives if you would like to skip them. My midwives did not volunteer this information, so you might have to actually ask them outright, unless you have nice ones. The problem (for me) with the ultrasound process is that it’s surrounded by policy and procedures. Unfortunately I had mine done at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and their policies seem stupider than the first clinic I went to (where I could see what was going on even at 8 weeks.) They will not let you see what they’re doing on the screen, they will also not permit a partner in the room with you during examination.
After the first time of acquiescing to this at my last scan, I was having none of it this time around. I made a fuss and was ready to leave if JC wasn’t at least permitted to sit with me. And then I moved the screen so I could see what was happening with the fetus. I am not a fan of that hospital, and unfortunately feel stuck with them as a resource because my midwives have delivery privileges there. I don’t have any interest in doing follow up scans there or at all.
An article I found interesting related to ultrasounds on Midwifery Today – Ultrasound: Weighing the Propaganda Against the Facts, was interesting, but I’m also not 100% on board with what they’re saying.
Bath time / Body Care
When we were in Sudbury last month, I spent 50 % of my awake time eating tacos at Tuco’s Taco Lounge and the other 50% reading and soaking in the bath tub. This was at least part of the reason we went, so no surprise there.
Things you might not think of about bath time? Even hippie natural products contain ingredients you may not want to soak in during your pregnancy, and not just because of your sensitive sense of smell. But because they can potentially be harmful to your fetus or just generally not ideal for your pregnancy. A few times, I’ve found that out AFTER I had filled the bathtub and thrown in some herbed epsom salts, so if you’d like to avoid wasting water, you might want to check out what you’re using before you use it. It’s not necessarily something to be super worried about, but something I like to be mindful of.
Also, it’s worth being conscious of your bath water temperature. Hot tubs are generally too hot to be safe for us pregnant folks to use, so you want to keep the temperature fairly reasonable. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a hot bath, just not a boiling hot one like I’m used to. They are incredibly comfortable.
So far during this pregnancy I’ve been using Earth Mama Angel Baby stuff and unscented body care products from Just the Goods. It’s been nice to have them around – both because I feel well moisturized, and have peace of mind that I’m using simple products with fetus, uterus, AND animal friendly ingredients.
I took my very first prenatal yoga class last week, and felt so great afterwards, I’m planning on doing it again very soon. It’s hard to know what my body can and cannot do, or should not do, and I tend to push myself whenever I’m given the opportunity, so I appreciated the guidance from someone with some experience practising yoga while pregnant, and also someone with specialized training focused on prenatal yoga. If you’re considering it, I had a great patient lesson with Ya’ara Saks at Spynga and rekindled my love of pigeon pose.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be oversharing again soon. 🙂